Bear with me improv fans, as ComedySportz is a sports-themed performance and, therefore, diving into real-life sports for a moment to make an improv point will prove valuable.
We like to say “I’ve got your back” in ComedySportz - it sets players at ease. If we trust the show, each other and play the way we’ve trained, there’s almost no way we’ll put on a bad show.
There are strength in numbers and, at the same time, a vulnerability in being led as a group - especially when the system breaks down. Look no further than the back-to-back NBA champion Golden State Warriors - and three of the last four titles - for a timely example.
This team has thrived under Head Coach Steve Kerr since the day he walked in. It’s not all him - not by a long shot. He inherited a team on the rise from previous Head Coach Mark Jackson and ownership that vowed to finally push the long-suffering Warriors Worriers into the sweet space of champagne-laced championship locker rooms.
Kerr does and should get credit, however, for his basketball IQ, tremendous positive demeanor and belief in the system over the individual. Critics will argue, well, that’s easy when you have elite pieces in your system. The counter argument says people become elite when they are given a system in which to do so. Elite players are also attracted to elite systems - see Kevin Durant - and more on him in a moment. Andre Iguodala is a foundational example of the buy in of the individual to a system Iguodala, or “Iggy” as he’s known to many fans, was an all-star who could start on many teams when he was brought to the Warriors in 2015 was instead asked by Kerr to accept a role coming off the bench. Iggy not only did this, he thrived in it all the way to becoming MVP in the Warriors first championship of their modern era.
This season, though, brought a unique challenge when mercurial forward, Draymond Green, lit into teammate Kevin Durant after a disagreement over a play that led to a loss. By many accounts, Green took the discussion well beyond basketball - he attacked Durant personally, even going so far as to tell the two-time finals MVP the Warriors didn’t need him.
Durant, for all his talent and accolades, has been labeled at times with the moniker of being soft - “cupcake” is the exact insult. He was regarded as a very good player who could never quite win it all while at Oklahoma City. He was ridiculed for joining a team that already had such a wealth of talent. Over the past two seasons, Durant made the power play of leaning into the insult and not only overcame it but thrived . He was able to do this, in part, at least, due to his team undeniably and forcibly having his back.
Green’s betrayal and pushing of a button that many thought had been deprogrammed sent the champs into a tailspin where they lost four in a row - something that had never happened with Kerr as the coach.
The best thing Kerr may have done in this situation was not hit the panic button. He paid his team and the system he helped build the respect of letting things work themselves out. Not that he wasn’t working - he was, he just focused on the fundamentals that reinforced the larger issue.
While a rush to judgment and focus on “the problem” was the easy surface response for many, Kerr and the Warriors addressed Green by suspending him at first then making sure he took the time to rest an injury he likely could have played through in order to allow Durant to find his mojo again. It didn’t come easy. But over the last three games, the Warriors have gotten back to their winning ways and Durant has once again emerged as one of the best - if not the best - players in the league.
What this all means to you, the business owner, leader or employee: You will have problems with your system. If you only chase the perceived problems, as opposed to edifying your foundation, you will continue to run down a hall of mirrors until you eventually smash into yourself - harming or even destroying yourself or the system in the process. The answer, simple but not easy, lies in faith in your system, reinforcement of that system and playing that out.
One of the best things we do at ComedySportz with our Applied Improv is put team-building in action. Everyone plays. Everyone is at once vulnerable and empowered. It is intentionally messy at times. We push boundaries in safe spaces. We have each other’s back. We’re not perfect, but we do believe in our system and the results it has turned out over the last 30 plus years for companies like Nike, Google and Southwest Airlines.
We look forward to bringing our highly refined system of observing, connecting and responding to you so you can develop a Warrior-like championship culture.
Contact Robert at 702-623-2700 or email@example.com for details.